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Hitting the road has never felt
so green

'Knowing I'm helping out the environment just by... driving my car is a cool feeling

 by Kyle Snow
 published on Friday, February 9, 2007

FULL TANK: Physics and mathematics sophomore Aaron Royer drives a Nissan Versa.  These vehicles are included in a new trend known as Green Cars  cars that are environmentally friendly and have low fuel emissions./issues/news/699690
Jamie Scharer / THE STATE PRESS
FULL TANK: Physics and mathematics sophomore Aaron Royer drives a Nissan Versa. These vehicles are included in a new trend known as Green Cars cars that are environmentally friendly and have low fuel emissions.
 

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When Diana Browne bought her new car, she wasn't too concerned about saving the environment. Instead, she was looking to save some cash with a vehicle that would give her good gas mileage.

It turns out her Prius Hybrid does both.

Greenercars.com, home of Green Book, an environmental guide to cars and trucks, released its annual report Tuesday ranking the safest cars for the environment. Some of the top 12 cars include the Toyota Prius, Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit.

Jim Kliesch, research assistant for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy - the company that produced the report, said the main criteria that determine if a vehicle is environmentally safe are fuel efficiency and tailpipe emissions.

"A vehicle with good fuel efficiency is much better for the environment," Kliesch said.

Hybrid cars are the friendliest of the cars that are widely available to consumers, Kliesch said.

Tailpipe emissions are also important in determining the ecologic friendliness of a car, Kliesch added. The emissions that are released from cars could be dangerous because of the influx of greenhouse gases, he said.

The lower the emissions, the better, and the top-ranked cars scored well in that category, he said.

Aaron Royer, a physics and mathematics sophomore, said he bought his Nissan Versa to help protect against global warming. The Versa wasn't ranked, but it was nonetheless listed as very friendly to the environment.

"I wanted something with nice gas mileage that didn't pollute the environment and drives well," Royer said. "[The Versa] hit all the criteria."

Browne, a global studies freshman, bought her No. 2- ranked Prius simply because of the fuel efficiency, and was delighted to hear she was being ecologically friendly as well.

"After I saw 'An Inconvenient Truth,' I was really happy to know that I was making a difference with my Prius," Browne said.

"An Inconvenient Truth" was a 2006 documentary starring Al Gore that detailed the effects of global warming.

The fact that students can help just by driving is great, said art junior Jessica Martinez, who owns a No. 8-ranked Honda Fit.

"I think anything good for the environment is a bonus for all of the other features [my Honda Fit] has," Martinez said.

Architecture freshman Leandro Echeverria owns a Toyota Yaris, which ranked at No. 5, and said he agrees with what Martinez said.

"Knowing I'm helping out the environment just by living my life the way I am by driving my car is a cool feeling," Echeverria said. "I don't necessarily have to go out of my way to help the problem, because I already am."

Kliesch said he thinks hybrid cars such as the Prius, which are environmentally the safest, are going to extend to all classes of vehicles.

"[Hyrbid cars] are going to branch out in all types of vehicles like mini-vans and luxury cars," he said.

This will be a good step toward helping out the impact of global warming for people's sake as well, Martinez said.

"If our environment is gone, so are we."


Reach the reporter at: kyle.snow@asu.edu.



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